Tag Archive: Meditation


Chronic Pain: End of My Rope

I try so hard to be positive but there are times when I just can’t manage it. In fact, I think often times it is just a cover: I plaster a smile on my face and pretend that I am really doing better than I am. But today the floodgates have opened and I am crying. My fibromyalgia pain is through the roof and there is no point in pretending I am okay, because I am not. I just am not. I am pretty much non-functional and I have been that way for a while. Pain and unrelenting mind-boggling fatigue. I never even knew it was possible to feel this much fatigue. Imagine not sleeping for a year, that is how bad it feels. My pain is from the top of my head to my very toes. Aching, sharp pains and muscle spasms.

Imagine trying to type a simple post like this. It takes forever. My brain is in a fog all the time, I can’t remember how to spell, forget grammar as well. My hand co-ordination is horrible. My eye-sight is fuzzy even with new glasses and magnifying the page. It is the way you see when you have not slept..

Imagine being home bound because you can’t drive anymore without having accidents. I use the dial-a-ride service for the disabled. But when I go out I can’t enjoy myself. A simple shopping trip is torture. I use a cane because my balance is off. I once broke my knee in a fall. My muscles feel incredibly weak and heavy. I go to Walmart and first I go to the in-store McDonalds and treat myself. Then I slowly make my way around the store. I have to take breaks and sit down. It is especially trying if I need to get stuff from both sides of the store.

I used to enjoy browsing, now I can’t do it. I need new clothes and the thought of having to look and try them on is overwhelming.

It may take several days to recover from my shopping. The pain and fatigue is always worse afterwards.

All I can say is if you have good health, treasure it! I am 50 years old going on 90.

Needless to say this is not conducive to good mental health. For a long time before I got sick and when I was working at the mental health social center I thought I would never be depressed again. Never say never I guess.

Conventional medicine has no answers for this except medication. I am already on a ton of medication for bipolar disorder. Some of the medications I take actually are used to treat fibromyalgia as well as they are supposed to reduce nerve pain. But they don’t work for me.

Another option is addictive pain killers. No thanks, I already got in trouble with sleeping pills and tranquilizers years back. Besides one of the insidious affects of pain pills is that your body can get used to them and they are not as effective. So the dose has to be raised. This leads to addiction but that is not all. I have read comments on online forums from people with fibromyalgia where they say that they keep having to be put on harder and harder drugs to get relief, but there obviously is a limit to how big a dose you can get without killing yourself. What ends up happening is that they run out of options, even the strongest ones don’t work anymore.

Now I will say that everyone reacts to medications differently so not everyone has this problem. But the operative word here is “tolerance” People who get addicted to medications when their bodies process medications differently than other people. I have already had that experience with tranquilizers and sleeping pills where the effects wore off and the doctor just kept raising the dosage. After a while I was in a constant state of withdrawal and started to abuse them both.

By the way a good doctor will monitor a patient for signs of tolerance. Mine didn’t. I just thought my symptoms were getting worse. I had never done drugs in my life and so it never occurred to me that I could become an addict.

So…what are my options? I can’t go on this way, that is for sure. Truth be told, many times I do not want to live anymore. But I am not going to take that road again. I have hurt people before with my suicide attempts and I am not going to do that again. But there are times when I pray for God to take me. Since I am still here I guess I know what the answer is.

I am going to do some research online on using meditation for pain management. I have not thought too much about it because frankly, it is pretty difficult to meditate when you are in pain. But since I keep seeing headlines that say that meditation helps then maybe I should look more closely. Maybe it is a different method than what I have tried before.

I just want to get functional again and maybe even have a little joy in my life. I may never get the life back that I used to have, but I just need to stop this black hole that is eating me alive.

A new theory for why Buddhist meditation makes us feel good

Meditation

Booze. Cigarettes. Gambling. The human brain is vulnerable to all sorts of addictions. And thinking might be one of them. That’s right – in many Buddhist texts, the endless stream of rumination that runs through the mind of the average person isn’t merely a distracting habit, but a genuine addiction that befuddles the intellect and inhibits spiritual development. In a new article, a leading neuropsychologist makes the same claim – that we’re all addicted to daydreaming, and that the neurology of our addictions is the same as that of addiction to drugs. What’s more, certain forms of Buddhist meditation may release the brain’s chemical hold on itself, releasing us from our addictive daydreams.

The article, published this fall in Religion, Brain & Behavior, outlines a novel model for how meditation works. As such, it doesn’t present any new empirical research, and only reviews prior studies. But its author, Bowling Green State University psychologist Patricia Sharp, is deeply read in the neurophysiology of reward, addiction, and meditation, and her synthesis of material across related disciplines is both rich and compelling.

Sharp’s argument hinges on the claim that, as Buddhist scriptures teach, life’s rewards tend to lose their sweetness over time. For example, people who get rich tend to enjoy a quick spike in happiness – but that spike doesn’t last very long. Pretty soon, their happiness levels tend to return back to where they were. Their new riches don’t make them any happier than they were before. Thus, the pleasures of the world are inherently, well…disappointing.

What’s innovative is Sharp’s claim that thought itself – particularly the ruminative, daydreaming style of thought that consumes nearly half our waking hours – fits this same pattern. Each individual daydream might offer a little internal reward, such as when we fantasize about accepting a trophy or scoring a date with the office bombshell. But over time, the constant barrage of imagined experiences begins to lose its luster, to become unrewarding – and maybe even to inhibit our ability to feel pleasure in general.

Sharp doesn’t mention the First Noble Truth of Buddhism in her paper, but she’s referring to something pretty close to what it calls dukkha, or suffering – the fundamental unsatisfactoriness of life. Dukkha means that all the things we crave and become attached to can’t actually deliver on their glorious promises. Whether it’s rich food, sex, alcohol, wealth, or mere fantasies, the objects of our cravings always leave us feeling dissatisfied after we attain them.

Offering a neurobiological description of this basic unsatisfactoriness, Sharp points out that the nucleus accumbens – a part of the brain that plays a central role in reward and motivation – receives dopamine inputs from other regions such as the ventral tegmental area and the medial substantia nigra. Together, these regions form a circuit that enables reward-based learning, or conditioned responses. Think Pavlov: train a dog to understand that the sound of a bell is always followed by dinner, and pretty soon the dog learns to salivate when he hears the ringing. Inside his brain, dopamine projections into the nucleus accumbens (yes, dogs have them too) have learned to fire in in response to the predicted reward. The dog literally gets a little burst of happy chemicals when he hears the bell, because the conditioned responses have worn grooves into his reward circuitry.

The problem? “Overlearning.” If you fire the same circuits often enough, their reward value starts to decline. The job of the nucleus accumbens, in this model, is to reinforce adaptive associations between stimuli and behavior. Dopamine in the nucleus accumbens may serve as a “biochemical stamp” that marks connections between stimuli and behavioral responses. Once the right pattern has been established, the brain doesn’t necessarily need that dopamine signal anymore – the pathway is already there. So the reward signals fade away, suppressed by inhibitor cells that project from the nucleus accumbens back into the midbrain, where they down-regulate dopamine release. The reward pathway is still there, entrenched in the brain through a network of strong, habit-worn connections. But the reward itself – dopamine – is gone. This process may explain the “hedonic treadmill” effect so unpleasantly familiar to us all, in which initially pleasurable or exciting stimuli lose their appeal over time.

One particularly nasty result of this hedonic treadmill effect can be compulsive, addictive behavior. Think about a rat obsessively pulling a lever to deliver cocaine – or a glassy-eyed casino-goer stuffing quarters into a slot machine. These compulsive behaviors arise from long-established reward pathways, now devoid of dopamine but still connective and active. Sharp argues that both chemical addiction and simple habituation to everyday rewards result from this gradual down-regulation of dopamine projections to the nucleus accumbens.

What’s more, our habitual fantasies and daydreams may follow the same pattern. Each time our minds wander, we start to fantasize, plan, and construct imaginative scenarios. Many of these imaginative scenarios come with their own little pulses of reward, as the hippocampus and other limbic regions carry excitable signals into the accumbens. Over time, our brains crystallize patterns of thought that repeat the same types of thoughts and daydreams over and over. Initially, these crystallizations were motivated by dopamine flushes in the reward system. But eventually, the dopamine rewards taper off – even though the thought patterns are still there. We’re left with a compulsive, clinging re-running of the same old thoughts, a repeating of the same mental scenarios obsessively. Worse, the holistic effect may be a general drop-off in happiness, because we’re indulging in lots of mental activity that offers no rewards. Our daydreams may be literally inhibiting pleasure. In Sharp’s words,

our constant engagement in compulsive, repetitive thought patterns tends to cause an ongoing, powerfully conditioned decrease in dopamine release, so that dopamine is chronically below what would be expected in the absence of these ongoing mental patterns.

The solution? Meditation! In particular, Buddhist samatha, or shamatta, meditation entails intense mental absorption and the cessation of thoughts. Sharp suggests that such meditative states, while difficult to achieve, may serve to break up established patterns of connectivity within the brain. These patterns, or “attractor networks,” are sort of like long-established wrinkles in your favorite shirt. You might put the shirt through the wash, but if you leave the shirt draped carelessly over a chair…well, the same crease shows back up again. Likewise, our habitual patterns of neural connectivity – in which the same clusters of neurons are activated synchronously – are always waiting to reappear.

In contrast, previous research has shown that intense meditative states synchronize activity across networks in the brain. These whole-brain patterns of synchronization are structurally similar to certain epileptic seizure states, in which normal, localized patterns of connectivity are suppressed and global synchrony takes over instead. These epileptic states, Sharp suggests, flood the brain with acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that can boost signal connections between cells from widely separated regions in the brain. In an acetylcholine-soaked brain, established knots of habit-bound connectivity may be temporarily relaxed, replaced with more general, dynamic connectivity across the entire cortex.

The overall effect of samatha meditation, then, may be what Sharp calls a “general loosening of the existent attractor networks in the brain.” Importantly, this loosening may be exactly what we need in order to experience bliss. Attractor networks in the brain are tight knots of connections. When the nucleus accumbens is activated by a long-established circuit, it sends signals back to the midbrain to inhibit dopamine production. Thus, when long-established knots of connection are suppressed, these inhibitory signals go silent. The dopamine can start pumping again. And we start to feel good. This, Sharp suggests, is how meditation works its magic: by releasing our brains’ constrictive holds on our reward systems, and allowing the normal flow of dopamine to start up once more.

Sharp’s model is speculative and theoretical. It appears in print alongside with a half-dozen response commentaries from experts, many of which are critical. It doesn’t offer any new empirical data. But it’s fascinating. And it suggests exciting new possibilities for research, and for thinking about how the brain works. Nowhere else has the time-honored Buddhist claim that our daily obsessive thoughts and mind-wandering are actual addictions been so forcefully presented in modern biological terms. Sometimes, speculative science is the most interesting – and the most groundbreaking.

Now for a confession: recently, I’ve nursed curmudgeonly concerns about our growing American enthusiasm for Buddhism and “mindfulness” training. I’m nervous that claiming Buddhist identity has become a marker of upper-middle class bourgeois sensibility, set against the hopelessly uncool Christianity or Judaism of the establishment. (Bizarrely, the bourgeoisie in the United States suffers from the chronic, and dangerous, delusion that it is somehow not the establishment – as evidenced by how canny companies sell their goods by showing off how countercultural and rebellious they are.) And I’m wary of the assumption that all mind-wandering is necessarily bad. We don’t all need to be “mindful” all the time. In fact, as recent research has shown, lack of daydreaming can even hurt us.

So Buddhism may be a little trendy these days, and our conversations about mindfulness could use more depth. But just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it’s bad. Buddhism has produced some of the most powerful psychology the world has ever seen, and its practices and insights are, frankly, invaluable. Sharp’s fascinating model gives us another useful insight into why.

 
Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scienceonreligion/2014/12/a-new-theory-for-why-buddhist-meditation-makes-us-feel-good/#ixzz3LF18zTu4

Reblogged from Science Daily:

 

Spirituality, religion may protect against major depression by thickening brain cortex

Date:
January 16, 2014
Source:
Columbia University, Teachers College

A thickening of the brain cortex associated with regular meditation or other spiritual or religious practice could be the reason those activities guard against depression — particularly in people who are predisposed to the disease, according to new research led by Lisa Miller, professor and director of Clinical Psychology and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University.

The study, published online by JAMA Psychiatry, involved 103 adults at either high or low risk of depression, based on family history. The subjects were asked how highly they valued religion or spirituality. Brain MRIs showed thicker cortices in subjects who placed a high importance on religion or spirituality than those who did not. The relatively thicker cortex was found in precisely the same regions of the brain that had otherwise shown thinning in people at high risk for depression.

Although more research is necessary, the results suggest that spirituality or religion may protect against major depression by thickening the brain cortex and counteracting the cortical thinning that would normally occur with major depression. The study, published on Dec. 25, 2013, is the first published investigation on the neuro-correlates of the protective effect of spirituality and religion against depression.

“The new study links this extremely large protective benefit of spirituality or religion to previous studies which identified large expanses of cortical thinning in specific regions of the brain in adult offspring of families at high risk for major depression,” Miller said.

Previous studies by Miller and the team published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (2012) showed a 90 percent decrease in major depression in adults who said they highly valued spirituality or religiosity and whose parents suffered from the disease. While regular attendance at church was not necessary, a strong personal importance placed on spirituality or religion was most protective against major depression in people who were at high familial risk

See original article here.

Reposted from Tiny Buddha:

 

Why We Don’t Need to Feel Bad About Feeling Bad

Sad Man

“Feelings are just visitors. Let them come and go.” ~Mooji

I once thought that the goal of meditation was to reach a state of constant positivity—a natural euphoria in which a person simply does not get angry or depressed.

I think that a lot of people begin practicing meditation thinking that their teacher has reached this euphoric state of being. I have learned, though, that these negative feelings are never permanently banished from anyone’s mind.

As someone that has been struggling with anxiety and depression disorders since early childhood, I turned to meditation as a teenager as a means of treatment.

I assumed that one day I would master meditation and never feel depressed or overly anxious again. I have been practicing on an off for eight years and have completed a meditation teacher certification course, and guess what—I am still human. I still get angry, depressed, and anxious.

What meditation has taught me is that there is no such thing as a negative feeling. All feelings are natural and necessary, no matter how unpleasant they may be.

Instead of resisting your feelings and the circumstances leading up to them, accept them. Only after you accept your feelings can you let go and move on. Resisting and stifling your feelings only keeps them with you longer.

I realized this after reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

I tried to do everything that the book said to do. Making lists of things that I was grateful for was easy, and so was saying “thank you” all of the time. One thing that I could not agree with though, was the author’s assumption that negative feelings are a result of being ungrateful.

Even on my worst days, I am grateful for the life that I have. I am grateful for who I am and the people around me. My negative feelings are caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain, and listing things that I am grateful for doesn’t help because I already know that my life is good.

For some people, depression comes the same way as a headache would, and accepting the feeling and letting it go is much more effective than trying to stifle, resist it, or act like it isn’t there.            

Look at the Earth, for example. Should the Earth try to resist winter, simply because summer is more pleasant? Wouldn’t it serve the Earth better to accept winter, trusting that summer will come again?

If we weren’t meant to feel anything that is unpleasant, winter would not exist.

Nature is beautiful; think of blue skies, flowers, beaches, and hot summer days. Nature can also be scary. For example, volcanos, hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, thunder and lightning destroy towns and cities and kill thousands of people.

There is good and bad in everything and every person on this planet. You, like the Earth, are a Yin Yang. Do not feel bad about being angry or upset. Instead, celebrate the good things about you.

Accepting your feelings and letting them swallow you whole are two different things, though. That is where meditation comes in.

You sit there and focus on your breath and the sounds around you and the present moment. If feelings of sadness arise, notice them, let them be, but do not attach yourself to the feeling.

Do not think, “I feel sad. I should not feel sad.” Instead, simply let the feeling exist, and before you know it, it will be gone. You are not your thoughts and feelings; they are simply experiences. Just because it is happening in your mind that doesn’t mean that it is a part of you.

Before I came to realize all of this, I felt bad about myself for not being able to reach this superhuman state of constant positivity that a lot of yoga and meditation teachers seem to purposely project in order to glorify their practice and attract new customers.

Your teachers get angry and upset sometimes, too; some of them just don’t want you to know it. The standard of constant positivity that I was trying to reach actually hindered my progress and made me feel worse after a meditation session.

If you are experiencing this, stop trying to be perfectly positive. It’s impossible. There’s no reason to resist your “negative” feelings, or feel bad for having them. You are a Yin Yang, as we all are—and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Photo by David Goehring

Avatar of Andrea Ulrich

About Andrea Ulrich

Andrea is currently working on a novel, getting into blogging, and working at a restaurant. She is certified to teach meditation and believes strongly in minimalism.

Go to original article here 

Read more inspiring articles at http://www.tinybuddha.com

 

Self Compassion

Kristin

Kristin (Photo credit: j3sspwnsj00)

 

I found a great article on www.tinybuddha.com Enjoy!

 

Self-Compassion: Learning to Be Nicer to Ourselves

Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Bobbi Emel

Be gentle first with yourself if you wish to be gentle with others.” ~Lama Yeshe

Several months ago, I sat in a large workshop audience being led by Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research.

She directed us to divide up into pairs for a self-compassion exercise. I turned to the young woman next to me. We introduced ourselves and returned our attention to Kristin.

Following her instructions, my partner closed her eyes while I sat looking at her. Kristin led those of us with open eyes through a loving-kindness meditation that was directed at our partners.

Although I did not know this young woman, I could feel my heart open wide to her as compassion arose within me. I felt warm and loving toward her.

Then it was my turn to sit with closed eyes. As Kristin repeated the meditation and I felt my partner’s loving gaze on me, I started to hear a voice.

Not a psychotic one, mind you, but that familiar voice that so often takes up my internal space. It had started chatting quietly but zoomed to full volume within seconds.

“You don’t deserve compassion! You don’t make enough money! You snap at Andrea all the time! You just need to get yourself under control!”

Sigh. So much for self-compassion.

But that was the point.

After the exercise, Dr. Neff asked, “How many of you found it harder to feel compassion toward yourself than the stranger sitting next to you?”

Just about everyone in that huge group—including me—raised their hands.

What is Self-Compassion Really About?

When we feel compassion for others, we feel kindness toward them, empathy, and a desire to help reduce their suffering.

It’s the same when you are compassionate toward yourself. Self-compassion creates a caring space within you that is free of judgment—a place that sees your hurt and your failures and softens to allow those experiences with kindness and caring.

And yet, with all of the wonderful things that come along with being kind to ourselves, we find it hard to actually feel it.

Why? Why are we so lacking in self-compassion?

4 Mythical Beliefs about Self-Compassion

The deficiency in self-compassion is likely brought about by these four untrue thoughts:

1. I’m just indulging myself if I’m self-compassionate.

That’s what my inner voice wanted me to believe during the workshop exercise.

But I’ve learned something important that helps me with that little critic—the difference between self-indulgence and self-compassion.

Self-compassion involves your health and well-being. Self-indulgence is about getting anything and everything you want without thoughts of well-being.

Self-compassion is about becoming aware of and sitting with your pain. Self-indulgence numbs and denies your pain.

2. I won’t be motivated if I don’t criticize myself.

Somewhere, deep down, you and I might actually believe that we need that inner critic to keep us motivated in life; that without it, we too easily stray outside the lines.

And it’s also possible that the critic evolved to help keep us safe from harm.

But guess what? We don’t need it anymore. Being compassionate with ourselves allows for a much healthier, kinder motivation.

As Kristin Neff says, “While the motivational power of self-criticism comes from fear of self-punishment, the motivational power of self-compassion comes from the desire to be healthy, to reduce our suffering.”

3. It’s selfish for me to be compassionate toward myself.

Many people, women especially, are taught to put others ahead of themselves. Self-compassion can seem like the opposite of what you “should” be doing: taking care of others.

But how will beating yourself up help you be kinder to others? The source of our compassion will only be more authentic when we are able to show compassion to ourselves first.

4. Self-compassion is for wimps.

Put on your big girl panties and stop whining!

Man up!

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!

Our society tends to reward toughing things out more than it does being kind and nurturing to yourself.

But the truth is that the strongest people are also the ones who can buck cultural norms and feel genuine compassion for themselves and their circumstances.

3 Ideas to Create Compassion for Yourself

Throughout the last ten years of her research, Kristin Neff has found three main ways to generate more compassion for yourself.

1. Be kind to yourself

The best way to think about being kind to yourself is to think about a friend.

Go ahead. Do it now. Visualize your best friend.

Now imagine she comes to you and says she is hurting because she was passed over for that promotion at work that she’s wanted for so long.

Would you say to her, “Well, it’s probably because you didn’t work hard enough. And you’re too mousy. You should have spoken up about wanting a promotion a long time ago.”

What? You wouldn’t say that to a friend? Would you say it to yourself?

It’s more likely that you would hug your friend and say, “Oh no! That’s terrible. I know how long you’ve been hoping to get that promotion. Come on, let’s go get some coffee and talk about it?”

You can be kind to yourself in this way, too. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend who is suffering.

Just as you would hug your friend, soothe yourself as well. Put your hands over your heart or locate the spot in your body where your hurt is hiding and gently place both hands there.

Speak kindly to yourself. Call yourself by an endearing name.

“Oh, honey. I’m hurting because I wanted that promotion so badly. This is a really hard place to be in right now.”

2. Embrace your common humanity

Many times when you criticize or judge yourself, you feel isolated. It seems as though you are the only one in the world who has that particular flaw.

And yet, we are all imperfect. We all suffer. And so we are all connected by our shared humanity.

One of the wonderful outcomes of self-compassion is our enhanced sense of belonging, the feeling that we are all in this together.

The next time you are looking in the mirror and not liking what you see, remember that you are an integral part of a flawed, wonderful, wounded, miraculous human tribe.

3. Be mindful

How will you know that you are suffering if you are repressing your pain, rationalizing it, or busy with problem-solving?

You must allow awareness of your pain to enter in. Being mindful is about noticing what is happening in the moment and having no judgment about it.

Notice your hurt and just be with it, compassionately and with kindness.

And note that trying to make pain go away with self-compassion is just another way to repress pain and hurt. Self-compassion is about being with your suffering in a kind, loving way, not about making suffering disappear.

We will always have pain. But as Shinzen Young has noted: Suffering = Pain x Resistance. The more you resist your pain, perhaps by trying to make it go away, the more suffering you will experience.

Mindfulness allows you to stay with the pain without the resistance.

Near the end of the workshop, Kristin led us through one last exercise called “Soften, soothe, allow.” It combines all three of the components listed above to help generate self-compassion.

After thinking about a difficulty we have, Kristin directed us to find the place in our bodies that held our problem and then place our hands on it.

I placed both of my hands gently over my heart.

Then, we were encouraged just to be with our pain—not try to rid ourselves of it—and allow kindness and compassion to surround it.

As I sat meditating on something I have always considered to be a character flaw, tears arose under my closed eyelids and soon splashed down my face.

It was the first time I had ever felt kindness for myself about this very raw area rather than listening to my inner critic. The pain I felt was actually okay when held in this compassionate space, I didn’t need to be ashamed any longer.

The soft waves of compassion surrounding my heart had healed me of my shame.

I now choose self-compassion in my life, especially when that inner voice starts up.

Will you?

About Bobbi Emel

Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel specializes in helping people face life’s significant challenges and regain their resiliency. Download her free ebook, “Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.” You can find her blog at http://www.TheBounceBlog.com and follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bobbiemel) and Twitter (@BobbiEmel.)

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Depression Buster Meditation

Meditation

Meditation (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_on_3th_SEPT)

Many of the symptoms of depression have to do with the dwelling on the past. Guilt, regret and loss are often the primary feelings you may have when you are depressed. On the other hand, anxiety and worry about the future may play a part, too. While medications help, they may not entirely get rid of all these symptoms.

Blue-Colored Glasses

People are creatures of habit. You may have learned certain ways of thinking and believing, mostly from your childhood. While some people wear “rose-colored glasses”, seeing life from a positive perspective, others have “blue-colored glasses”, seeing only the negative side. In other words, everything you experience is filtered through your own perceptions. One of these misconceptions is the idea that the past equals the future. People who struggle with depression often become hopeless because they don’t see that anything they do can make a difference in their lives. But if you change your perspective just a little bit, you can see that this is not true.

A Word About False Feelings

Feelings are just that, feelings. They do not necessarily have any bearing on the reality of the situation. Feelings are not facts! It is important to understand that when you are depressed that you may not be seeing things accurately. Having said this, do not beat yourself up for thinking the way you do. You may have an underlying chemical imbalance that needs to be treated. Trying to think positively at this point may not be possible. But if you can acknowledge that your feelings are lying to you then you leave a space for hope to grow for the future.

Meditation for Living in the Now

As I have said before, when you are depressed you may be spending your time ruminating obsessively about the past and/or the future. It is important to break this cycle because it keeps you spinning lower and lower into the black hole of depression and anxiety. This simple exercise may help. It is not a miracle cure but a tool to be used in conjunction with medication and therapy (or whatever your treatment plan is.)

  1. Go to a private place and either sit or lie down, whichever is more comfortable. Do not worry if you fall asleep (this is a good meditation to use before bed, too).
  2. Take a few abdominal deep breaths, then settle in to a normal breathing pattern.
  3. Put your attention on your breathing. Feel the sensation of your breath going in and out of your lungs. Spend a little time on this until you start to feel relaxed.
  4. Now bring your attention outwards. What is the room temperature, is it hot, cold, or comfortable? Focus all your attention on this sensation.
  5. Then move your awareness further outwards. Notice how quiet and peaceful it is in the room. Let that peace move into your body with every breath.
  6. Continue to notice other things in your environment, such as the softness of your bedding or the comfort of your chair.
  7. After immersing yourself in these sensations for a few minutes, you may realize that you are no longer thinking about the past or the future, instead you are fully present in the now.
  8. Repeat this phrase silently to yourself, “There is nothing to be upset about in this moment, in the now. As I pay attention to my breath and my environment, I see that there is nothing I need to think about right now. I let my worries go, now, if only for this moment.”
  9. Spend as much time as you need in this meditation. Remember this is a process to enjoy, rather than a task to be mastered.

Using this technique a few times a day is like giving your mind a break from negative thoughts and feelings. But this is not meant to replace professional help. If you are feeling suicidal seek immediate professional help.